On their own, psychiatric conditions and alcohol abuse are difficult to treat. The effects are often even harder to manage and treat when someone struggles with both. Research shows that about 45 percent of people with bipolar disorder also meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder. Left untreated, people with this combination suffer from severe symptoms and are at higher risk of harmful complications such as alcohol poisoning or suicidal behavior. When somebody is diagnosed with both a mental health disorder and an addiction, it is known as a dual diagnosis. Though dual diagnosis presents unique issues for treatment, recovery for both conditions is possible and effective. A bipolar treatment program through a qualified mental health treatment center will also be prepared to deal with a dual diagnosis.
Because each condition presents challenges, it is important to seek help from a program qualified to treat both bipolar disorder and alcohol abuse. At Atlanta Center for Mental Health, we have decades of experience treating dual diagnosis and helping our clients go on to lead safe and stable lives. If you or someone you love is exhibiting signs of bipolar disorder and alcohol addiction, please reach out to the staff at the Atlanta Center for Mental Health. Our combination of evidence-based and holistic programs is effective in helping people live full, self-directed lives. Call 833.625.0458 or fill out an online intake form here.
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
The most common feature of bipolar disorder is large changes in mood. Bipolar disorder used to be called manic depression, which describes a person’s shift from the highs of mania to the lows of depression. The name was changed to remove the fear and stigma surrounding this mental illness. Instead, we now understand bipolar disorder to be a treatable condition. People with bipolar disorder can learn to manage their symptoms so that they can live full lives, have healthy relationships, and contribute to their communities. Bipolar disorder can present in two ways.
Bipolar one is diagnosed when someone has a manic episode. Mania is a period of increased energy, reduced sleep, hyperactivity, and sometimes psychosis. At times, this manic episode is so severe that the person must be hospitalized for stabilization. A major depressive episode may precede these manic episodes.
Bipolar two is diagnosed when a person has a major depressive episode that lasts at least two weeks and a hypomanic episode of four or more days. Hypomania is a period of increased energy, decreased sleep, and hyperactivity that does not require hospitalization. Hypomania presents similarly to a manic episode but is less severe.
It is important to be aware of the warning signs of manic or depressive episodes so you can manage the symptoms and quickly get treatment, if necessary. Manic episodes can include behavior such as:
- Being overly upbeat or energetic
- Increased agitation
- Inflated sense of ego and confidence
- Getting little sleep
- Unusual talkativeness
- Unplanned spending sprees
- Sexually risky behavior
- Unusual drug or alcohol use
- Making poor financial investments
Depressive episodes, as one would expect, are defined by an extended period of depressive symptoms. In a depressive episode, these are severe enough to cause noticeable harm in your professional, personal, or academic life. Some of the symptoms can include:
- Feeling sad, empty, or hopeless
- Little to no interest in activities that previously brought you pleasure
- Changes in appetite
- Significant weight loss or gain
- Sleeping too much or little
- Inability to think, plan, or concentrate
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
How Do Bipolar Disorder and Alcohol Abuse Affect Each Other?
When someone with a mental illness also has alcohol use disorder, each condition exacerbates the other. In general, the effects of alcohol are:
- Poor memory
- Reduced concentration
- Difficulty processing new information
- Increased anxiety
Someone might start drinking to self-medicate the symptoms of their mental illness and then find that the alcohol makes their symptoms worse or causes new ones to develop. Abusing alcohol also makes it difficult for the person to participate in treatment for their mental illness or follow a safety plan.
The Connection Between Bipolar Disorder and Alcohol Abuse
Research hasn’t found the exact link between bipolar disorder and alcohol abuse. Co-occurring disorders are difficult to unravel, but researchers have enough information to make good guesses. One theory is that alcohol use disorder may trigger bipolar disorder and have genetic risk factors in common. Another theory is that because people with bipolar disorder often engage in risky behaviors during their manic phases, they may be more likely to abuse alcohol. What is clear is that when someone has a dual diagnosis, they require both mental health treatment and addiction treatment. Bipolar treatment and alcohol addiction treatment should go hand in hand.
Learn More About Bipolar Treatment at the Atlanta Center for Mental Health
If you or someone you love has a mental health diagnosis and struggles with alcohol abuse, please reach out to the staff at the Atlanta Center for Mental Health for information about our life-saving programs. We offer:
- Inpatient bipolar treatment
- Inpatient psychiatric care center
- A dual diagnosis psychiatric facility
- Depression treatment
- Anxiety treatment
You do not have to manage your mental health and addiction on your own. Our staff is ready to help you find long-term recovery so that you can live the healthy life you deserve. Call 833.625.0458 or fill out an online intake form here.